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After the Fire: Preliminary Deodorization and Detoxification
By Gary Loiben and Bill Weigand

Preliminary deodorization and detoxification should be part of the emergency services mitigation during fire restoration cleanup. This process is a multi-step approach which reduces cross-contamination of smoke residue and aids in deodorization.
This phase accomplishes several goals: 
  • It reduces the perception of odors—sometimes called “psychological odors”—by reducing smoke odor intensity levels
  • It establishes the restorer’s credibility with the customer
  • It improves the environment by cleansing the air for workers, insurance personnel and the insured
First, vacuum the soot from horizontal surfaces. Begin in the room or area where the fire originated and work your way out to the unaffected areas.
Next, apply water-based odor counteractant to flooring surfaces with a pressure or compression sprayer, either a general smoke odor counteractant or citrus solvent odor counteractant. This suppresses odorous gasses at the floor level and prevents them from becoming airborne.
Then spread a granular, time-release, odor counteractant on the same floors. Follow product directions for proper application rate. This type of product slowly releases odor counteractants into the air, further reducing the intensity of any smoke odors. 
After completing these steps, determine if smoke odor can still be smelled. If odor is still noticeable, apply a stronger solution of water-based odor counteractant, and follow up with additional granular odor counteractant. 
Once no smoke odor is noticeable, proceed with the final emergency deodorization procedure. This involves applying a solvent-based odor counteractant with a thermal fogger.

Why Thermal Fogging?

The theory of thermal fogging is to recreate the conditions that exist during a fire. Airborne smoke particles range in size from 0.1 to 4.0 microns. Electric thermal foggers produce a particle size of 2 to 5 microns or more and a small amount of heat and pressure. A gasoline-powered fogger, however, produces extremely fine particles in the range of 0.25 to 0.5 microns. The unit also generates tremendous heat and pressure. 
The heat, energy and small size of the deodorant particles produced by a thermal fogging machine tend to carry them deep into surfaces, much like smoke particles behave during a fire. Because the gas-powered fogger produces particles so similar to smoke particles, we recommend the use of this type fogger wherever possible.
Thermal fogging utilizes two basic principles: agglomeration and adsorption. Agglomeration is the surrounding of or attaching to the smoke particles making them heavier than air so they tend to land on horizontal surfaces where they can be removed by cleaning. Adsorption is the chemical attraction of the smoke odor molecules to the deodorant molecules to neutralize and eliminate smoke odors. When properly applied, thermal fogging can actually cleanse the air and drive odor counteractants deep into materials, mimicking the penetration of smoke.
For more information about smoke remediation, visit the Restoration Sciences Academy website at 
Recommended Smoke Remediation Products and Equipment
General smoke odor counteractant: ODORx 9-D-9
Citrus solvent odor counteractant: ODORx Double-O
Thermal Fog Solvent odor counteractant: ODORx Thermo 55
Granular deodorant: ODORx C.O.C. (Crystal Odor Counteractant)
Gas powered thermal fogger: Prochem Thermo-Gen VF
Electric thermal fogger: Prochem Electro-Gen